Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Bib of the Day -- LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon, October 9, 2005

Not sure if I am going to get a run in but I wanted to introduce something I plan on doing in the future. I'll call it "Bib of the Day"...it will be a photo of one of my race bibs and a little bit of the story behind it.

One thing that we all need to remember is that every bib has a story, not only just the race it represents but the time, effort and commitment it took to earn the ability to wear it. We all have a reason for running and racing, and that "reason" -- whatever it may be -- is part of the story too.

So in honor of the movie "Spirit of the Marathon" (which I watched the other day for the third time in as many months) I present my bib from the 2005 Chicago Marathon, which is the race depicted in the movie.

One of my goals from the time I started running marathons was to break four hours (I'd like to qualify for the Boston Marathon someday, but that's a different dream). For a lot of reasons, things came together in 2005 that made me think it was doable.

Since the start of that year I had been working with a coach named Lisa Menninger. She had been a longtime runner on the local scene and we met when I had written a story about her for Chicago Athlete magazine and crossed paths at races. Like me, she had discovered running in her early 30s and she had become very good, with several sub-3 hour marathons and local race wins to her credit.

Earlier that year, in May, I had run 1:57 at the Indy Mini Marathon and was getting some good miles in. So I suggested to Lisa that I wanted to break four hours and she adjusted my schedule accordingly. One of the big things she did was had me run a good portion of my long runs at or below marathon pace, and instead of doing just one 20-miler I did three, which was absolutely huge.

Three weeks before the race I ran my final 20-miler in under three hours, so I felt like I was in a perfect place to get it done. I also got a big break with the weather as the temps during the race were in the mid-50s, which is right where I like them.

From the start, I felt really strong. To run a marathon in four hours you have to average right around 9:11 per mile. I went out pretty conservatively, averaging 9:21 for my first 5K, but gradually brought that pace down until I hit the halfway point in 1:59:35, which is about as close to perfect as I could have gotten.

Looking back at my splits, which you can see here, I probably tried too hard a little past the halfway point, and then as I closed in on 20 miles I got a reminder of just how much of the marathon relies on mental toughness.

Out of nowhere, I felt a slight twinge on the outside of my left knee. It didn't last long, but it was long enough to break my focus, and the next 10K was just a disaster. The weird thing was that my knee only hurt for maybe a minute or so, but it just took me completely out of my thought processes and I wasn't able to recover.

In the end, I did set a PR in 4:07:46, which still stands to this day. While I was a bit disappointed in the result, it did make me realize that breaking four hours is something that I'll ultimately be able to achieve. It won't happen this year (that I can promise you) and maybe not next, but I believe I'll get there...and maybe even well beyond!

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